Thursday, 12 November 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison government is demonstrating international leadership by responding to the challenges posed to Australia by a changing climate and building resilience to natural disasters?
I thank the member for Herbert for his question and acknowledge his leadership, particularly after the floods in Townsville last year, in rebuilding that community. Over the last two years this nation has faced flood, fire and drought. Deloitte Economics estimates that the cost to our economy is around $18.2 billion, and that will escalate to around $39 billion by 2050. Our response is not only in the immediate relief and recovery, in committing $10 billion for drought, $3 billion for those floods in north-west Queensland and $2 billion for the fires. It's not just about the here and now but also about building that resilience within that envelope of money—new, cutting-edge research that equips our emergency service personnel with world-class modelling that helps them to prepare even more quickly. Regarding the drought, we've just announced eight new drought innovation hubs that will be out in the regions, where the adoption of the research and development takes place, so that our farmers are equipped with the tools to grow even more and better food and fibre for the world.
It's important that we undertake this in a way that intersects also with our Regional Development Corporations. They represent 15 commodities and, between the federal government and the producers, put in over $800 million in research money a year. This is making sure that there is collaboration, coordination and no duplication of taxpayers' money and levy payers' money. This is getting better results for producers and equipping them. And we've now put $88 million into a new national disaster research centre that will provide the science to help our emergency services personnel prepare meticulously for disaster seasons well in advance.
That complements what the minister for energy has done around reducing our emissions—carbon capture storage technology. In my own electorate, we're going to see that the coal-fired power station in Millmerran will reduce its emissions by up to 90 per cent. That is backing ourselves with the smarts of the 21st century—the very best knowledge in the world—to reduce our emissions, keep the electricity on and protect our farmers. Tomorrow, the Prime Minister and I will be tabling our response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, after national cabinet. It is important that we understand that this is a partnership, a partnership with the states, in working together to protect Australians from natural disasters and making sure that the outcomes of these recommendations are worked through collaboratively to protect Australians well into the future from any natural disaster we may face.